Canadian pronunciation of "t"

Gavril

Senior Member
English, USA
In Canadian English, there seems to be a tendency to pronounce the letter t as a voiceless, aspirated stop in all environments, or at least in a wider range of environments than in my form of American English.

Some examples:

['bætʰriz] "batteries"
[ʌ'tʰɔl] "at all"

In my pronunciation, these would be pronounced ['bæɾəriz] and [æ'ɾɔl], with the flap sound [ɾ] rather than the [tʰ] in the examples above.

Both the above examples were uttered by people from British Columbia (I think that one of them grew up there, though I'm not sure about the other).

Is the pronunciation of t as [tʰ] standard across Canada, or is there more variation?
 
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  • quillerbee

    Senior Member
    Canadian English
    Hi Gavril,

    I am from Toronto and I use badderies in my radio and spread budder on my toast. I did not realise I was doing this a tall until I started hanging around British people who use buttah.

    Vancouver is young enough and there is enough inflow of people from the east that I do not notice a difference between "them" and "us".
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    Your two examples are different: in 'batteries' the /t/ is after the stress, so here North American accents generally use the flap (and modern Southern England ones the glottal stop). But in 'at all', 'at' is likely to be a proclitic, that is phonetically part of the following word. So in the single phonetic word 'at all', /t/ comes before the stressed vowel, and I would expect aspiration here in most accents. It is somewhat surprising if it's flapped in North American or glottalled in Southern England.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Your two examples are different: in 'batteries' the /t/ is after the stress, so here North American accents generally use the flap (and modern Southern England ones the glottal stop). But in 'at all', 'at' is likely to be a proclitic, that is phonetically part of the following word. So in the single phonetic word 'at all', /t/ comes before the stressed vowel, and I would expect aspiration here in most accents. It is somewhat surprising if it's flapped in North American or glottalled in Southern England.

    I regularly use the flap pronunciation in at all, though perhaps not in all contexts. I don't know exactly how standard this pronunciation of at all is in my region (western United States), but the aspirated version ([ʌ'tʰɔl] etc.) stands out as different from what I'm used to.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    the aspirated version ([ʌ'tʰɔl] etc.) stands out as different from what I'm used to.

    Sorry to be distracted by your IPA. I'm a bit surprised at the first vowel. I would say [əˈtʰɔːl] or [æˈtʰɔːl]: [æ], [ɐ] or [ə], but not [ʌ]. Of course I don't speak Canadian English, but my impression from my time in Toronto is that the American-style voicing of /t/ is normal.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Sorry to be distracted by your IPA. I'm a bit surprised at the first vowel. I would say [əˈtʰɔːl] or [æˈtʰɔːl]: [æ], [ɐ] or [ə], but not [ʌ]. Of course I don't speak Canadian English, but my impression from my time in Toronto is that the American-style voicing of /t/ is normal.

    I could be wrong about the vowel. It sounded close to a schwa, but closer to the sound of (American) English hut, cut etc.
     

    AmEStudent

    Senior Member
    Italian/Albanian - bilingual
    The American /ʌ/ is not a pure [ʌ], it can vary from [ʌ̈] to [ɜ̠] or even [ɘ], all of which are close to but not a schwa. The vowel in unstressed "at" is definitely a schwa though.

    As for at all, I'd transcribe it as /æɾ ɑɫ/, /ætʰ ɑɫ/, /-ɒ/, /ə-/. but I'd say the flap t version is more common overall.
     

    Gavril

    Senior Member
    English, USA
    Just to keep score, I recently heard literally pronounced "litt'rally" by an Ottawa native living in the US. My pronunciation is ['lɪɾəɹəli].

    The "(t)t" in the Ottawan's pronunciation may have been slightly affricated/colored by the following "r", but it clearly wasn't a flap.
     
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